The bold initiative of former NRM Director Steve Davies finally bore fruit this week at the Great Gathering, when all six surviving members of Sir Nigel Gresley's A4 Pacifics were brought together in the museum's Great Hall. This vision necessitated the repatriation of the two locomotives which had been donated to railway museums in North America in the 1960s, No 60008 Dwight D. Eisenhower in the USA and No 60010 Dominion of Canada in that country. This was achieved last autumn and since then they have both been bulled up to exhibition condition. Meanwhile the three examples working in the UK were also booked to join Mallard and their transatlantic sisters, in time for the 75th anniversary of Mallard's world record speed for steam traction of 126 mph, achieved on 3 July 1938.
The NRM marketed special earlybird photography sessions for each morning of the Great Gathering, and I secured one for the day after the official opening. Even with only 50 or so participants, photography was still a challenge, but the engines were well spaced out. Then the Great Hall overwhelmed with people within five minutes of the museum opening to the public, so I felt lucky to have the chance to take photos in the relative peace of the early morning.
© Peter Hewitt's Transport Pictures